Ayanna Pressley Upsets Incumbent Michael Capuano In Massachusetts House Primary

The progressive Democrat stunned the 10-term law maker.

Ayanna Pressley celebrates winning the Democratic nomination for her Congressional seat
Scott Eisen / Getty Images

The progressive Democrat stunned the 10-term law maker.

In a result that completely changes the political reality in Massachusetts Ayanna Pressley defeated Michael Capuano, a 10-term representative, in the Democratic primary reports the New York Times.

Pressley’s victory shows a vast change in the political climate with progressive candidates routinely upsetting more establishment candidates throughout the nation in democratic primaries. This win has significant echoes of June’s win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also beat a long-serving incumbent in Joseph Crawly for the Democratic nomination for a House seat in New York. Fox News reports that Pressley received the endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez.

African-American progressives have been managing big wins in Democratic primaries this election season, with Pressley just one of several upsets in democratic primaries for African-American progressives. Three Democratic nominees for governor, Stacey Abrams (Georgia), Andrew Gillum (Florida) and Ben Jealous (Maryland) all beat the odds as an African-American progressive to win the nomination of the party.

By winning the nomination, Pressley has a strong chance of being the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, with no Republican on the ballot for a district that counts President John F. Kennedy as one of its former representatives in a reflection of how progressive the district is.

“People who feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives, a stakehold in democracy and a promise for our future,” she said in her victory speech. “That is the real victory, that is bigger than any electoral victory. And I want to thank you all for being foot soldiers in this movement and for ushering in this change.”

The result was apparent early, with the Associated Press calling the election after barely 13 percent of the vote was counted, shortly after Capuano had conceded confident that Pressley would represent the district well in his concession speech.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life, and this is O.K. America’s going to be O.K. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman, and I will tell you that Massachusetts will be well served.”

This isn’t the first time Pressley has managed to make history, after becoming the first African-American woman elected to Boston City Council, again against the odds. While serving in the council Pressley proved a progressive voice leading a reform of Boston’s liquor licenses and updating the policy for pregnant and parenting students at Boston’s Public Schools.

Anytime an incumbent is defeated who served as long as Capuano served is going to send strong messages to the party and extend well beyond the borders of the Boston district, with yet another establishment Democrat defeated.

The result perhaps reflects a change in Massachusetts says the New York Times which only has two women in its nine-strong House contingent, has never elected a woman as governor and had not elected a woman to the Senate until 2012, Elizabeth Warren.

Capuano and Pressley were keen to agree that their votes would likely be similar, which made Pressley’s success came from her call for greater change, running on the slogan ‘change can’t wait’ which proved successful in the only minority-majority district in Massachusetts.